Zidane v Guardiola: Who got it right in Champions League last-16 tie?

Zidane v Guardiola: Pep was vindicated for his big call to pick Gabriel Jesus ahead of Sergio Aguero, but Zizou chose badly by leaving Toni Kroos on the bench

  • Zinedine Zidane and Pep Guardiola went head to head as managers for first time
  • Zidane gambled by picking Vinicius Junior ahead of Gareth Bale
  • He erred badly by leaving the precise passing of Toni Kroos on the bench
  • Pep Guardiola’s big call was to pick Gabriel Jesus ahead of Sergio Aguero 

Manchester City came from behind to secure victory over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night.

Isco had given the hosts the lead against the run of play in the second half, only for Pep Gurdiola’s men to roar back in style.

Gabriel Jesus’ header and Kevin De Bruyne’s penalty swung the momentum firmly in City’s favour before Sergio Ramos saw red late on. Here Sportsmail look at where the game was won and lost… 

Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane embrace on the touchline at the Bernabeu on Wednesday

Starting XIs

Pep Guardiola gambled on leaving out Sergio Aguero and it worked. Without a fixed centre-forward to mark, Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos looked confused at times and the latter was sent off for a foul on Gabriel Jesus in the second half. 

Zinedine Zidane also took several gambles. One was to unleash the so often wild finishing of Vinicius on Manchester City. 

It backfired in the first half as the Brazilian forward squandered Real Madrid’s best chance failing to bury the rebound from Karim Benzema’s shot. 

The other surprise in his XI was Toni Kroos left on the bench. The game was crying out for his precision passing in the first half. 

As he left the Bernabeu he was asked if he was okay. ‘physically yes,’ he told reporters clearly not happy about being left out.


Zidane’s changes in the second half. did not work. He switched Vinicius too late. The winger’s legs had gone after a lung-busting 70 minutes. 

What the Brazilian lacks in natural finishing he makes up for with the skill and speed that saw him tee-up Isco for Madrid’s opening goal. 

The Madrid coach was perhaps waiting because he felt Madrid were on top and close to getting the second. 

Sure enough as soon as he brought on Gareth Bale Madrid were pegged back and worse was to follow. Perhaps bringing on Lucas Vazquez for Vinicius and playing him on the right to protect Dani Carvajal would have saved Madrid from their 10-minute collapse. 

Guardiola’s first second half change was Sterling and when he forced Carvajal’s clumsy challenge in the box De Bruyne had the chance to turn the game on his head and he didn’t fail. 

For once Guardiola was relatively unmoved – head down, hands in pockets as the City bench jumped up and down in the technical area all around him.

Vinicius Junior produced a lung-busting 70 minutes for Real Madrid before his legs went

Technical area

Guardiola has always been more animated than Zidane and both were firmly in character here. Zidane was statuesque, hands in pockets for the most part, often motionless until Isco scored. 

Guardiola was hyperactive from the first kick, crouching in the corner of his technical area, bouncing up when his team attacked, waving his arms, gesticulating widely and dramatically holding Fernandinho’s head in his hands before sending him into battle for the injured Laporte. 

His frustration turned to joy when the second goal went in. He knows he is 90 minutes now from taken a major step towards this season’s goal.

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